Mobilize 2010: Tango–Think Cross-Platform FaceTime Over 3G

I had a chance to check out a cool new free iPhone/Android app that officially launched today at Mobilize: Tango Video Calls.

Tango enables 3G VoIP and video calls between any two users who both have Tango installed and are registered. This is a pretty big barrier as far as user acquisition/usability, but before I get into that, I’ll talk about the product itself.

I saw a demo of Tango in action, and I’d say that in terms of quality, it works (and looks) a lot like FaceTime.

When you start up Tango, you use your phone number as your unique PIN. Then, you grant it access to your phonebook, which it scans for other Tango users. You can invite people from your adress book via email or SMS, and at next startup, Tango scans your contacts again and the list of available Tango users in your book auto-populates.

The app is available here in the App Store, and I can’t be bothered to try and hunt for the link on Android’s dreadful storefront.

Tango’s biggest potential problem that I alluded to earlier, was the challenge of finding people to use this with. As you probably know, Apple’s FaceTime is currently only available on the iPhone 4 and even then only over WiFi. These are significant enough barriers that people (like me) don’t regularly use FaceTime. Another barrier, is that often, I just don’t want to be on video when talking to my friends.

VoIP might actually be Tango’s killer feature, users may come for cross platform video calls, and stay for the voice. Tango’s VoIP feature, which sends you a push notification when you get a call, is pretty slick–especially since you don’t have to use your phone minutes to continue talking.

I also asked the Tango folks if they are using the open APIs that His Steveness talked about on stage at FaceTime’s launch. It turns out that Tango doesn’t use the FaceTime protocol, and in fact, Apple hasn’t actually open-sourced it yet (but plans to).

But if you can’t wait for cross-platform, over 3G FaceTime to happen, Tango just might be worth the download.

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